Family members of Anarae Schunk said Sunday that they won’t give up hope until her body is found.
As volunteers searched fields and empty spaces in Lilydale and Rosemount for any sign of missing U student Anarae Schunk, family members said Sunday that the 20-year-old’s jacket had been found covered in blood and punctured by 18 to 20 holes investigators believe could indicate stab wounds.
Sunday afternoon, Schunk’s brother, Tyson, pleaded for volunteers to search an area near Lilydale and Pickerel Lake for his sister.
“We need to find her,” Tyson Schunk said shortly after the family posted a Facebook message asking for help. The post included a map with the Lilydale area circled in red. He and his brother Owen Schunk also asked people to search near a quarry at Dakota County Road 46 and Shannon Parkway and the adjacent UMore Park.
The family said Monday morning that Steve Matula, brother of missing Eden Prairie woman Mandy Matula, has offered his help with the search, although his role is still uncertain.
Schunk has been missing since early Sept. 22 when she apparently left Nina’s Grill in Burnsville with her ex-boyfriend, Shavelle Chavez-Nelson, and Chavez-Nelson’s current girlfriend, Ashley Conrade, 24, of Rosemount. Chavez-Nelson has been charged with shooting and killing a man outside the bar shortly before 2 a.m. that day.
Burnsville police told the family Friday night that they believe the University of Minnesota junior is dead, but haven’t publicly elaborated on what led them to that conclusion.
Tyson Schunk said police found his sister’s white jacket with a U logo at the apartment of Chavez-Nelson’s ex-wife in St. Paul. Police told the family that a knife connected with the case was found on the roof of the apartment building.
Tyson Schunk said his sister was seen in the area of the apartment about 7 p.m. Sept. 21. Family members said DNA results haven’t come back yet on the blood on the jacket or whether any evidence was found on the knife.
Although police told the family that they are certain that Schunk was killed, her brothers and sister-in-law said they won’t be 100 percent certain until they find her body.
Chavez-Nelson, 31, was charged Thursday with second-degree murder in the death of Palagor Obang Jobi, 23, of Savage. Conrade is charged with aiding an offender for harboring Chavez-Nelson until his arrest.
If and when Schunk or her body is found, Chavez-Nelson and Conrade could face additional charges.
“We can’t [add charges] in Minnesota without a body,” Tyson Schunk said. “We’ve got to find it.”
Volunteers take to the parks
In Lilydale Regional Park, a group of young people scrambled up a steep embankment beneath St. Paul’s High Bridge, looking for any piece of evidence that could be linked to Anarae Schunk.
“I can’t imagine someone would carry someone up this high. It’s hard getting up here myself,” said Keren Marin as she braced herself against a tree.
Down below, Kyle Klaphake peeked beneath a pile of blankets in an abandoned homeless encampment at the base of the bridge, kicking away abandoned spray paint cans and beer bottles. Bicyclists and dog walkers whizzed by on the paths below.
After searching areas that they thought probable, some of the 20 or so volunteers hopped in the back of Steven Matula’s pickup to check out another location.